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Why Having A Plan B Is Not Planning To Fail

Why Having A Plan B Is Not Planning To Fail

People who tell you that having a plan B is planning to fail are irresponsible, short-sighted, egotistical, and ridiculous.

Always have a plan B. Always cap the downside. Always plan for the worst. That’s actually showing a lot of courage.

If you don’t, you will be surprised and taken out by the vagaries and disasters of everyday life.

The secret to handling any obstacle is developing nerves of steel. The secret to developing nerves of steel is thinking and planning. When you are at the mercy of the unexpected — helpless and struggling before it — you will wish you had a plan B.

I’ve seen quotes like this being shared an awful lot over the past few years.

Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos

Sure, it may have sounded motivational when Holmes was worth a billion dollars. Doesn’t sound so good now that Theranos is in disgrace and their lies have come out, does it? Kinda feels like a backup plan would’ve been useful at this point, right? Maybe she didn’t mean it like this, maybe I can give her the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t give the benefit of the doubt to the people who share it and pontificate over it and turn it into the entrepreneurial version of a green smoothie skinny tea Instagram post.

I want to call this crap out for what it is. Harmful, meaningless drivel, at best taken out of context, at worst not even thought through. Ignore it. Have a plan B.

I have back up plans. I have a support network I can move in with if my entire business falls apart, I am registered as an Uber driver if I lost every cent I have, I have an “eBay box” full of stuff that I’ve picked up that I could sell, I have alternative revenue streams, I’m still studying and upskilling, I’m always thinking about how to cap the downside.

Doing that doesn’t make me any less committed to my mission of building my agency, building Creatomic, building my coaching, building Speedlancer, following my dreams and exploring what I passionately believe I am meant to do with my life.

Sure, ideas like “don’t have a plan B” are imminently more quotable than “plan for the worst.”

But my plan B stands between me and total disaster.

I’d rather have that firmly in place than be a little more quotable.

[This post by Jon Westenberg first appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.]


A Sydney based writer focusing on creativity, technology and business.
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